2003-10-24 / Columnists

Simon says...

From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B
Simon says...

Simon says...

Lew M. SimonLew M. Simon

From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

This was indeed a very busy, difficult and hostile week. Tuesday evening we attended the regular monthly meeting of Community Board 14. Among the items on the agenda was the sale of 6200 Beach Channel Dr. to the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center Inc., which is named for the late Congressman. The N.Y.C. Department of Health supports some of their programs.

The new health center is getting support from Rep. Greg Meeks ($1.5 million), New York City Housing Authority ($1.5 million), Councilman Sanders ($1.1 million), Assemblywoman Titus ($200,000) and Borough President Marshall ($2 million). The total cost is budgeted at $10 million.

Demolition of the existing structure on Beach Channel Drive will begin on Dec. 3 and construction should be complete by early 2005. The new building will have 23,000 square feet as compared with 14,000 square feet in the existing health center, and 55 parking spaces will be provided.

The late Assemblywoman Pauline Cummings fought diligently for the reality of a new health center, a college for aeronautics and a branch of the City University. Guess what? There is no funding for the colleges due to budget cuts. The idea has been sent back to the RDRC to create a new plan.

Anybody with common sense would realize that we really need our own college campus offering liberal arts, nursing medical technology, computer science and many other majors. GED and college remediation are also needed in our community. Failure to plan for a college is a slap in the face for our community. We have enough students from Rockaway, Broad Channel, Breezy Point, the Five Towns, Atlantic and Long Beach. We must keep space available for a campus and make sure the money is in the next budget.

It was announced that Queens DOT had lost 50 percent of the funds needed for lane resurfacing in the mayor’s new budget. Potholes are not being filled as fast as they used to be and missing and faded street signs are not being replaced.

Our great friend Mamie Keaton, who has made a major difference in the area of daycare in the Rockaways, received a 15 year award for service on Community Board 14 from Borough President Marshall.

Our Annual Dinner Dance will be held on December 3 at The Beach Club. There will be live music and a DJ. Glatt Kosher food will be available. Among the honorees will be Alphonse Catanese Sr., John Norbury, John Socha, Barney Cassidy, Maxine Schack, Teresa Harris, Bryan Bernath, Barbara and Elizabeth Buffalino and Karen Nevirs.

We need your continued participation and support. Call for reservations at 945-1216. Send your checks to the Good Government Regular Democratic club at 112-20 Beach Channel Dr., Rockaway Park 11694.

Our next bus trip to Atlantic City Trump Marina will be on Saturday, November 15. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8a.m. Reservations are a must and tickets must be paid in advance. Call our office now.

Wednesday evening we attended an emergency Parents Association meeting at Beach Channel high School where they discussed the sudden removal of a popular Assistant Principal without due process. After the meeting it was suggested that a rally for parents and community leaders be held in front of Beach Channel High School on Thursday morning.

I was proud to stand along side the parents that morning for approximately one hour and 15 minutes. During that time many of the students expressed their support for our action. They told us what a great guy Claude Monereau, the assistant principal was. They expressed their hostility toward the principal, Mrs. Barbara Pleener, and their concern about the lack of safety in the school.

Many asked if they could join the picket line. We made it abundantly clear that this was for the parents and other adults only. We found out later that evening at a meeting of the Good Government Regular Democratic club that, according to Captain Paul Piekarski of the 100 Precinct, the principal allowed students to come out to vent, which led them to join the picket line.

All day long the fire alarm bells were ringing, a number of paper fires broke out, and some fights broke out resulting in chaos in the building. The school was out of control and a number of students were arrested. One of the parents voiced her outrage because her daughter had left the building when the fire alarm was sounded and was arrested. She was charged with disorderly conduct and received a summons. The mother wanted to know why and demanded that the summons be dismissed.

At the present time there is major hostility at B.C.H.S. On Wednesday evening I pleaded with Councilman James Sanders to ask Chancellor Klein and Mayor Bloomberg to solve these issues. He said that he needed time to investigate. He also said that he was in the 32 C.D. and represented the 31 C.D. Many of the parents screamed that they lived in the 31 C.D. I also asked Sandee Doremus, who represents Councilman Addabbo, to ask for Addabbo’s assistance. We ask all community leaders regardless of party affiliation or which side of the district line they live to get together to help solve this problem.

We thank Mary Martinez and Mile of Waldbaums, Rockaway Bagels and Wendy’s for the refreshments at our meeting on Thursday evening.

We learned a lot about the problems at our club meeting on Thursday and afterward. The U.F.T. chapter has written to Region 5 Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Cashin to protest oversize classes, improper programming and constantly-changing class registers. They asked her to demonstrate how to teach under these conditions.

A member of the C-30 committee told us this proves that the process of choosing a successor to Principal Bernard Gassaway has failed. The C-30 committee, made up of parents and teachers, read resumes and interviewed candidates for the job. The recommended Monereau, Comer and Kane for the job in that order. All were rejected on technicalities. There were charges that Monereau was behind a petition supporting him for principal. According to rules a person facing charges cannot be appointed.

We later spoke to Monereau. He said he wanted to go back to his job and help Barbara Pleener, the principal run the school. He said that his conflict with Pleener began when students booed Pleener and cheered him at an assembly. He said that he never threatened Pleener and wants to return to work.

We then tried to find out how Pleener got the job. We found that she had been principal at Jamaica High School. In 1999 the Office of Equal Opportunity of the Board of Education found that Mrs. Pleener subjected a male basketball coach to a hostile sexual environment. She cut team funding, subjected him to screaming fits, devised an absurd teaching schedule, which resulted in his loss of his job as a baseball coach after he brought his girlfriend to a school game.

After complaints from Jamaica H.S. teachers reached the State of New York Public Employment Relations Board the school was put under a trusteeship for two years. The principal was required to meet monthly with four U.F.T. teachers, a rep from the Superintendent’s Office and a CSA observer to discuss all matter which might be raised as grievances. After 4 months Principal Pleener was transferred to the High School Super­intendent’s office where she did ad­ministrative work for 4 years. This year she was taken from that hiding place and put in charge of Beach Channel.

We demand that all the public officials who are concerned with education in our schools get together and straighten out the problem that has been dumped on us. We needed the best and got the worst.

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